AFC - A magical hat-trick by Suphawut Thueanklang steered Bluewave Chonburi to the coveted AFC Futsal Club Championship Vietnam 2017 title after narrowly defeating Giti Pasand 3-2 in an enthralling final on Sunday.
It was no ordinary Sunday at the Phu Thọ Indoor Stadium. At stake was the opportunity to solidify continental supremacy as the Championship prepared to crown new two-time champions.
With so much on the line, it was the Thais who threw down the gauntlet, carving out the first chance when Jirawat Sornwichian lofted a sublime cross for Suphawut who took the ball down with his left, before unleashing with his right.
In a scintillating contest between two equally matched teams, Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh then came close to snatching the opener, watching his right-foot shot go centimetres wide after Ahmad Esmaeilpour threaded a lovely weighted pass to slice open the Thai defence.
Giti Pasand threatened again two minutes later, Esmaeilpour recovering well from almost losing possession, to drive through the middle before dispatching a low drive matched equally by the agility of custodian Katawut Hankampa.
Suphawut (pictured above), who spent most of the competition in the shadows of teammate Jirawat, sent a timely reminder of his ability to shine on the big stage, testing Sepehr Mohammadi after connecting masterfully to Kritsada Wongkaeo’s kick-in in the eighth minute.
Eager to clinch his place in the record books, Suphawut then gave Chonburi the lead - capitalising from a woeful mix up by the Iranian defence in the penalty area to pounce home from close range in the 13th minute.
Seconds later, Chonburi extended their lead. Suphawut was the man of the hour once again through an unobstructured free-kick, after Giti Pasand were penalised for their sixth accumulated infringement.
Giti Pasand then staked their claim to a comeback, roaring to grab their opener after Ahamd snatched the ball from Katawut who made a mess of a seemingly harmless back-pass in the first eight seconds of the second-half.
Esmaeilpour then sent the Iranian bench into celebrations a minute later - the forward dispossessing Jirawat of the ball before putting his full weight behind his right-foot to complete the Iranians remarkable comeback.
But Giti Pasand’s celebration lasted mere seconds, after Apiwat Chaemcharoen did well to draw the Iranian defence with his individual trickery before teeing-off for Suphawut to unleash a right-footed cracker for his hat-trick.
Hassanzadeh then came close to the equaliser, driving the ball from his own penalty area to the opposition's, powering past the entire Chonburi defence before letting fly a low drive, but Katawut came to the rescue.
With three minutes on the clock, the Iranians resorted to the power play, setting the stage for a nail-biting finale. Between pilling on the offensive to capitalising on the counter, the match saw a series of near misses as the Thais held on for a famous second title.
Rakphol Sainetgnam (Chonburi Bluewave Head Coach)
“Right from the beginning, I knew it was going to be very difficult. I knew if we won today, I would be emotional. We achieved what we set out to do here. We wanted to win the title for our fans, we wanted to do it for Thailand and make our people proud and I believe and hope that they are celebrating together with us.
“I must give credit to my players, they were fantastic today. The played like professionals and remained focus throughout. Of course, when they equalised, there was some concern but the important task for me was to get them to regain their mentality. I always knew that we were capable of getting the winner and true enough, it came. My players were truly fantastic today.
"Of course, now we must rest. But after that, we must aim to do well back home so we can come back next year to defend our title.”
Alireza Afzal (Sanaye Giti Pasand Isfahan Head Coach)
“It was a very good game, a close final between two equally good teams. I am sorry to say but I think they were lucky today. We were punished for switching off in the small moments in the game. I do not believe that my players deserved to lose. Perhaps we could have been more consistent, but this is a final. It is normal for each team to dominate every five minutes or so. All things aside, congratulations to Chonburi.
"Our hard work starts now. Our league is not easy to win. Let’s win first, and then aim to come back here to try again to win this title.”
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